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when a huge stone was brought before Powhatan, and several men assembled with clubs in their hands. The lamentations of the women admonished Smith of his destiny; who being brought blindfolded to the spot, his head was laid on the block, and the men prepared with their clubs to beat out his brains. The women now became more bitter in their lamentations over the victim; but the savage Monarch was inexorable, and the executioners were lifting their arms to perform the office of death, when Pocahontas ran with mournful distraction to the stone, and getting the victim's head into her arms, laid her own upon it to receive the blow. Fair spirit! thou ministering angel at the throne of grace! if souls disengaged from their earthly bondage can witness from the bosom of eternal light what is passing here below, accept, sweet Seraph, this tribute to thy humanity.
Powhatan was not wanting in paternal feeling; his soul was devoted to his daughter Pocahontas; and so much did his ferocity relent at this display of innocent softness in a girl of fourteen, that he pronounced the prisoner's pardon, and dismissed the executioners. Indeed, every heart melted into tenderness at the scene. The joy of the successfui mediator expressed itself in silence ; she hung wildly on the neck of the reprieved victim, weeping with a violence that choaked her utterance.
The breast of Smith did not yield to this act of female softness and humanity; it excited an emotion of gratitude, but it kindled no passion in his heart. - Formed for action and enterprize, he considered love an imbecility unworthy of a great mind; and though his person could inspire tender sentiments, his mind was not ductile to them. His penetration, however, foresaw the uses to which the passion of Pocahontas for him might be converted ; and his solicitude for the success of the Colony, which was much nearer his heart, made him feign a return of that fondness which every day augmented in the bosom of the Princess.
It was the custom of Powhatan when he was weary of his women, to bestow them among those of his courtiers who had ingratiated themselves into his favour ; nor could his servants be more honoured than by this mark of his esteem.
Powhatan had conceived a very high predilection for Captain Snith. He caused his person to be adorned with a robe of racoon skins, similar to that which he wore himself; and when he was glutted with the possession of the two women, who sat at his throne, he signified it to be his royal pleasure to consign one of them to his guest.
No sooner did this intelligence reach the ears of the squaws, than a bitter controversy took place hetween them respecting which of the two was the more worthy of pre-eminence. Jealousy cannot like other passions be restrained by modesty or prudence; a vent it will have; and soon it
burst forth from these women with the impetuosity of a torrent. They had neither nails, nor fingers enough to scratch with ; nor a volubility of tongue sufficient to deliver the abuse that laboured with convulsive throes to come forth from their bosoms.
At length, Powhatan separated the combatants, and told Smith to make his choice. But Smith, who was a man that never forgot the respect due to himself, declined with cold civility the honour his Majesty intended him; to the unspeakable joy of Pocahontas, who had awaited the event in solitude and tears.
Two days after Powhatan disguised himself in the most frightful manner his imagination could suggest. He then caused Captain Smith, to be carried to a great wigwam in the woods, and there be left alone on a mat by the fire. Not long after, from behind a kind of arras that divided the apartment, was made the most doleful noise his ears had ever heard ; and, presently Powhatan, with about two hundred more Indians in masquerade, came from behind the arras, and informed Smith they were now friends, and that he should immediately go to James-town, and send him one of those engines of war whose Joud voice could mimic the thunder of the clouds; that he would give him the country of Capahowsick in exchange for it, and ever after esteem him next to his son Nantaquas. Captain Smith reposed but little confidence in his words; away im
he expected every minute to be put to some savage death; but Powhatan sent him mediately with twelve guides, and, having lodged that night in the woods, he arrived the next morning early at the fort.
And thus Captain Smith, after seven weeks' captivity, returned to Jamestown; improved in his knowledge of the country, and the language of the natives. He behaved to his guides with the most flattering attention, and, having shewn Pawhunt, the confidential servant of Powhatan, a brass nine-pounder, desired he would carry it with his compliments to the King. The weight of the cannon soon deterred him from the attempt; but when the Indians saw him discharge it, loaded with stone, among the bows of a large oak, they ran with wonder and dismay from the engine of terror.
Finding every effort ineffectual to transport the
gun to Powbatan, their curiosity was turned to the toys Captain Smith exhibited before them. With these he loaded his guides, after selecting the most dazzling as presents for Powhatan, Opitchapan his brother, Nanlaquas his son, and the tender Pocahontas.
When Sinith returned to James-town, he found the colony in the utmost confusion. They considered their affairs desperate, and were fitting out a bark to return to England. Our adventurer exerted his abilities to frustrate the execution of this project. He lost no occasion to adorn with every embellishment of imagination, the beauty and fertility of the country he had travelled through; he dwelt with admiration on the grain reposited in the store-houses of the natives; and in fact, represented it to be a second Canaan, a land that flowed with milk and honey. His eloquence was not without the desired effect. He prevailed upon the bravest of his companions to alter their resolution, and by their assistance he overawed the extravagant projects of the rest.
The Colonists, therefore, thought once more of maintaining the fort; and in this resolution they were confirmed by the coming of Pocahontas with a numerous train of attendants, loaded with Indian corn and other grain of the country,
The Colonists flocked with eager curiosity to behold an Indian girl, who had saved by her interposition the life of their Chief; nor was their admiration less excited by the beauty of her person, than the humanity of her disposition.*
* Pocahontas was eminently interesting both in form and features. Her person was below the middle size, but admirably proportioned. Her waist resembled that of the French Monarch's mistress; it was la taille à la main. Her limbs were delicate ; and her feet were distinguished by exquisite insteps, such as of those women whom Homer calls 2100xp8s.
It has been remarked, says Hawkesworth, (this single sentence is of more value than the folios of Lavater,) that the predominant passion may generally be discovered in the countenance, because the muscles by which it is expressed, being almost perpetually contracted, lose their tone, and never wholly relax; so that the expression remains when the passion is suspended.